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Faith credentials pushed to the fore in presidential race

31 August 2012

PRESIDENT Obama and Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate for the White House, sought to defend their religious credentials last week, in an interview with the Washington National Cathedral magazine, Cathedral Age.

Asked to respond to those who have "questioned the sincerity" of his Christian faith, President Obama said: "I have a job to do as President, and that does not involve convincing folks that my faith in Jesus is legitimate and real.

"I do my best to live out my faith, and to stay in the Word, and to make my life look more like His. I'm not perfect. What I can do is just keep on following Him, and serve others - trying to make folks' lives a little better using this humbling position that I hold."

President Obama said that his Christian faith "has grown as President. This office tends to make a person pray more; and as President Lincoln once said, 'I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.'"

In the interview, Mr Romney steered clear of talking specifically about his Mormon faith, which has provoked the disapproval of Republican Evangelical voters. He said: "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Saviour of mankind. . . Faith is integral to my life. . . My faith is grounded in the conviction that a consequence of our common humanity is our responsibility to one another - to our fellow Americans foremost, but also to every child of God."

The RC Archbishop of New York, and President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, is to deliver the closing benediction at the Republican National Convention, in Florida, it was announced last week.

The announcement provoked accusations from some commentators that the RC Bishops were too close to the Republican Party.

On Tuesday, however, the Catholic Bishops' Conference announced that Cardinal Dolan had accepted an invitation to say the closing prayers at the Democratic National Convention, next Thursday. A spokesman for the archdiocese of New York said: "It was made clear to the Democratic Convention organisers, as it was to the Republicans, that the Cardinal was coming solely as a pastor, only to pray, not to endorse any party, platform, or candidate."

It was reported last week that the Revd Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, in California, had cancelled a "forum" at his church, at which the presidential candidates had been scheduled to speak.

Mr Warren told the Orange County Register newspaper that such a forum was "meant to be a place where people of goodwill can seriously disagree on significant issues without being disagreeable or resorting to personal attack and name-calling. But that is not the climate of today's campaign. I've never seen more irresponsible personal attacks, mean-spirited slander, and flat-out dishonest attack ads, and I don't expect that tone to change before the election.

"It would be hypocritical to pretend civility for one evening only, [only] to have the name-calling return the next day."


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